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2 years, 11 months ago
Lean UX — trifles for successful projects


Author: Anastasia Rezhepp, head of DataArt design studio.

In this article I will a little tell about methodology of Lean of UX design and I will give several technician and the exercises showing how to apply it.

Often we have the following problem: to us the client with a startup comes: it has a certain general idea, and specific he can tell nothing since he does not know precisely what functions he would like to add to a product and what to clean. Our purpose — to help it with it to understand. And with it we can be helped by the UX design Lean method.

That "lean" means

The word "lean" is translated into Russian as "lean", "thin", "fast". If to translate this term more in a special way, then — "economical", "economical", "minimalistic". For example, there is already a term "economical production" — transfer of English "lean production". Economical production means permanent elimination of all types of losses — it is reached, including, the maximum orientation to the consumer. The same is right also for approach of economical (lean) UX design.

Principles of economical UX design

When we follow a method of lean UX design, there are several moments to which it is worth paying attention:
  • We understand target audience and its problems.
  • We create MVP (Minimum Viable Product — minimum viable product).
  • We work with short iterations.
  • We constantly test innovations on users and if something not so, we are quickly rolled away.
  • We work with command: UX designers, designers, developers and testers work together and constantly exchange opinions and tasks.


How to work with MVP

How there is a work with minimum viable product, with MVP? We take a lean, but viable product (i.e. with necessary functions which can interest someone) and gradually on it we increase meat, muscles, fat — new functions and properties. As a result the product grows more and more and has the increasing success in the market (at least, we expect it). It occurs because we are guided by the ultimate user at once and we grow in the necessary direction.

If we work by the economical principle with minimum viable product, we have to:
  • To formulate vision of a product.
  • To formulate business challenges.
  • To formulate roles of users, to understand their tasks and the purposes.
  • To build a product prototype.
  • To test it.
  • To begin all over again.


Now so already very many work.

Why "the space handle" is necessary

At once to move in the necessary direction, it is important to consider one important point. Often, having insufficiently thought over a problem, we very quickly jump in space of its solution at once and we act already there. So happens not only by applications programming, but also in life.

I will give a bright example from area of city legends — an example of "the space handle". They say that in 1965 NASA gave the order for development of the handle to which astronauts could write in the conditions of zero gravity. The Fisher company undertook development of the handle. As a result "the space handle" was developed the whole year (it and now can be purchased in shops, by the way), and spent considerable funds for its development. "The space handle" can really use in space. At the same time the Soviet scientists proposed own solution of this problem — a simple pencil. Such here Russian "space handle" which also should not be developed even.

It is the city legend (based, however, on the facts — just a little distorted), but it for us is unimportant now. It is important that on the example of this history we can see clearly how one were found in area solutions (this NASA), and others (the Soviet scientists) — in the field of the problem. The problem was not in developing the handle which writes in space, and that astronauts need the tool to document the supervision. And the solution of this problem can be very simple — it is just necessary to contemplate at first a problem, but not right there to start solving it.

Not "as", and "that"

Not to jump at once in solution space, it is necessary to proceed from the correct questions. It is important not to begin to think right there how we will make something: before it it is worth thinking what we do and why. Therefore the correct sequence of questions is as follows: what for?-> that?-> how?

For example, happens, the client comes and speaks: "Very few people download my application — probably, it is necessary to make other landing page (landing) … Here I looked, people have beautiful landing pages, with animation and photos — make something similar". And we do not manage to look back as at us already five designers draw animation, look for pictures etc. And the problem, maybe, at all not in the landing page — can be, it is necessary to add something to the application that it began to have success.

To find a voskhititel: Kano model

And here I pass to the following exercise: as to us to decide what to add and what not to add to our application — so that its development went in a right direction. I called this exercise "To find a voskhititel".

This exercise is based on the so-called Kano model — it was developed by Japanese Noriaki Kano about 50 years ago. According to the theory of Kano, at any product all its qualities and functions are divided into 3 categories:
  • Must-haves (main, basic qualities).
  • Performance benefits (expected quality).
  • Delighters (attractive qualities, or voskhititel).


  • The main qualities — what has to be obligatory. Without them the product will not exist in the market — without these qualities it just is necessary to nobody.
  • The expected qualities — those which the user would like to see. Them it is possible and it is necessary to improve. If you increase them and improve, then satisfaction of the user smoothly grows.
  • Voskhititeli, or attractive qualities — what the user does not expect at all to see, but if he receives them, I am very glad.


Lean UX — trifles for successful projects


Now we will illustrate application of the Kano method on the example of a pig moneybox:

  • One of its basic qualities — it has to have a slot in which we throw money. If it is not, then even if we will paint a pig bright colors, we will decorate with pastes, all the same nobody will purchase it — at least, nobody will become interested in it in quality of a moneybox.
  • The expected qualities: what can we make with this pig moneybox that she became better? We can change its size: for example, if it is more, in it more money will be located. We can change the sizes of an opening in which we lower money — to make it the most convenient. It will be pleasant to people and therefore they will buy such moneybox.
  • Voskhititel: for example, when we lower money in a pig, she will grunt, and it will bring to people improbable delight.


By the way, it is very convenient to use the Kano model for the analysis of competitors. If we do the normal analysis, usually we select several similar applications and we compare their functions:

Lean UX — trifles for successful projects


Function which meets most often — for certain the most important and popular. But, if we separate all functions into three categories, it will be even better.

Let's give an example. We entered into design studios since summer production gymnastics. For this purpose we installed to ourselves mobile sports applications which help to make warm-up for 10 – 15 minutes. And I compared these applications, using the Kano model:

Lean UX — trifles for successful projects

  • The main qualities of such applications appeared: video descriptions of exercises, an opportunity to combine them and to make the set, existence of the timer. For example, without timer such application is rather senseless — it very inconveniently to use.
  • The expected qualities — the number of video and an interesnost of the offered exercises.
  • Voskhititeli: for example, shows all exercises in the Lazy Monster application animated monstrik — and it very much pleases us. It is more than nothing interesting — this application is not present — but, probably, it is popular at the expense of this monstrik. In the third application attractive quality are "achivka" — an opportunity free of charge to load additional exercises.


By the way, in the field of mobile applications voskhititel often are in area of design and the user interface — it often helps the fly up application.

"Magic wand"

And there is a question — how to think up voskhititel? It is not always simple. For inventing of voskhititel I prepared exercise "Magic wand".

We just sit down and we begin brainstorming — we represent our product in some world where there are no restrictions. We do not constrain the imagination and we do not think neither of developers at all, nor about technical restrictions — simply we think out everything that will come to mind. Afterwards from all these imaginations we, with a high probability, will be able to pull out any rational grain — any functions which it is really possible and it is necessary to implement.

For an example I took sports applications again and thought what to me could be wanted from them. The sports application could:
  • to speak Brad Pitt's by voice;
  • to suggest to make 10 squats, so far I make coffee;
  • to substitute music from favourite movies;
  • to give loading according to pulse and health;
  • etc.


Generally, it would be desirable that the application worked with me more intellectually. From these imaginations we can really extend something real: for example, the application can be connected with the website of "Kinopoisk" that it knew what movies we watch. If there are good investors, it is possible to agree even with Brad Pitt that he wrote a postscoring.

Smoke "testing" on the landing page

So, let us assume, we thought up a set of cool functions. Now we can make smoke "testing" on the landing page (landing). It not this testing because we still seriously do not develop anything. Meanwhile we:

  • we draw the landing page for our product;
  • we list functions which we thought up;
  • we check conversion.


For this purpose it will be necessary for us, except ideas, some sketches of future application which we will place on the landing page, and, perhaps, its some prototype looking as this which we will continue to develop in case of success of idea. The main thing that the user understood that offer it! And for conversion check we, for example, can put the button "subscribe for news" on the page or we do several versions of plans and subscriptions and we watch how many people visited the pages and subscribed for news about the project or requested a demoversion. Then, if conversion high, we continue to develop the application and if low — we displace an invention.

For example, it is approach we soon use for our financial projects: let's start the landing page where concepts of finance applications for youth are described. Each application will have a button "request a demoversion", and we will look how many at people this demo will want to look.

But there is still an important point: it is worth doing all this, only if we worked with users and the client before. In other words, it is not necessary to invent all absolutely from the head — there have to be nevertheless some real bases, some general knowledge in what party it is worth developing the application.
So, what subjects we considered?


We talked as:
  • To leave solution space.
  • To learn to ask at first "that", but not "as".
  • To do classification of functions.
  • To work with a magic wand.
  • To test what is not present.


Thanks for smart thoughts of Dan Olsen and leanproductplaybook.com, Kim Goodwin and Designing for the Digital Age.

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